Wooded Hill Nature Trail


Wooded Hill Nature Trail is a short, easy, interpretive trail in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area that is perfect for a leisurely hike with the kids. While much of the Laguna Mountain area has suffered from fires, Wooded Hill and the surrounding area is still covered in mature pine and oak trees that legitimately merit the use of the word “forest”.

Interpretive exhibits, identified by rocks with numbers painted on them, pepper the trail. You can get a pamphlet from the nearby Visitor’s Center with informative information that correspond to each numbered rock, and spend some time learning about the local plant life and other items of interest. If you choose to skip the pamphlet, this is still a beautiful trail with some great views to enjoy.

We parked in the turnout across the road from the Wooded Hills Group Campground entrance. The trail consists of two loops that form a figure-8 pattern. We noted two trails leading from the turnout, the one on the left was marked “Wooded Hill Nature Trail.” The trail to the right was the unmarked opposite end of the loop where we’d return. We set off down the path on the left through dry grass.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0701-edit

The surrounding area was thick with Jeffrey pines and Black Oaks. The Oaks were putting on a beautiful display of fall color as they transitioned from green to yellow and orange.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0702-edit

We quickly began climbing up the wooded hillside, but the slope was gentle.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0705-edit

Large granite boulders dotted the hillside.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0708-edit

At .3 miles we came to the center of the figure-8. A sign indicated the trailhead lay downhill to the right (in case you only want a very short hike), and the longer loop continued to the left. We turned left.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0714

As we continued making our way up the hill we began to get some nice views through the thick trees. We spotted the Laguna Observatory in the northeast.2016woodedhilldsc_0054-edit

And fog-filled valleys to the southeast.2016woodedhilldsc_0732-pano-edit

The trail made a sharp right turn, an arrow sign pointing us in the right direction, and we passed through another field of beautiful boulders at the top of the hill.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0737

From here the trail began to gradually descend through more thick trees and long brown grass.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0747-edit

Right around the 1 mile point, an unmarked trail branched off the left. This trail eventually connects up with the Old County Road we had hiked on when doing the Agua Dulce Loop last year. But we spotted another numbered rock to the right and continued that direction to stay on the interpretive trail.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0752-edit

As we continued to wind around the hill heading back towards our starting point, we found more and more Black Oaks lit up by the morning sun. Anyone who says San Diego doesn’t have fall color just needs to get out more.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0761-edit

Around 1.4 miles we found ourselves back at the junction at the center of the figure-8. 2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0773

We stayed left at the fork, and soon reached the trailhead.2016_wooded_hill_nature_trail_dsc_0781-edit

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From I-8 east take the Sunrise Highway exit and turn left onto Sunrise Highway (S1). Follow Sunrise Highway for approximately 8.2 miles, then turn left onto Wooded Hill Road. Follow Wooded Hill Road for approximately .3 miles to the start of the Wooded Hill Nature Trail on the left, across from the Wooded Hill Group Campground. Park in the turnout near the trailhead. map

Total Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 335 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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